What a stretch! Jack was still with us for 5 of the last 7 days and we covered some up and downs. We noticed that since we joined the Colorado trail we have been doing less staying on ridgelines and more down a valley, up to a pass, down a valley, up to a pass, etc. This means lots of hard walking on knees and quads, but also a lot of varied terrain.
From Gunnison we left Monarch Pass and put Jack to the test. We covered over 18 miles in just over a half day and that was our short one. He handled it like a champ. We gave him "monster" status the way he handled climbs.
After going up and over Chalk Pass early in this section, we dropped into a sweet old mining valley. There was also a For Sale sign on some property just out of a wilderness area that Sara and I already have plans on turning into an adventure base. We ended up following this old railroad bed up another valley to where a tunnel had collapsed, effectively ending the usage of that line. The next morning we tried a cross country route to the top of a 13,000' peak, which put us on a sketchy snow-chute traverse then knife edge scree field. We bailed on the peak and dropped back to Tin Cup Pass.
After a few more up-downs (we crossed so many Passes this week I have forgotten most of them) we climbed a super steep section to Hope Pass, where I saw my first mountain goat. Sara calmly informed me that we will see them all over Glacier, but for me it was a big deal. She wouldn't let me chase it though so I had to settle for a picture. The goat ended up traversing above us until we set up camp, then laid down and guarded us through the night.
The next morning we dropped to Twin Lakes and crossed a verrrrry (so many R's because my teeth still chatter) cold creek before heading back up to that base of Mt. Elbert. The CDT in this section winds around the base of this peak, but we decided to go up and over this 14,433' detour. Why not? We started climbing at 10,400' and hit treeline around 11,500', then continued to climb another few hours. It was a big mountain. It was crazy from the top being able to look down on other 14ers. Turns out it is the second tallest in the continental US and tallest in the US Rockies. All down hill from there!
We dropped off an exhausted Jack (if you know Jack you know that he is never exhausted) at Tennessee Pass then took off on our own. Yesterday we had lunch at the top of yet another pass with some marmots. Marmots are normally skittish creatures that look all fuzzy and cute. These were not. Sure, at first we thought it was cool they wanted to see what we were doing and eating. Just curious. But as they kept edging closer to our food and not running away when I ran at them we decided it was scary. I am still convinced a previous hiker left rabies filled jelly beans for them. I even tossed a rock at one, which hit him in the face, to no effect. What creature does not move when it gets hit in the face with a rock? We have since decided that pikas are more cute.
Speaking of pikas....we have been doing some survey work for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. This is a group that recruits awesome people like us to take data for them while we are out doing stuff. We have been doing some pika monitoring so anytime we here a bark or see a small grey flash, we take a gps point. Check them out if you are planning an adventure.
This afternoon we rolled into Silverthorne, which is pretty close to Copper Mountain and Breckenridge. No time to ski though, we are off to Rocky Mountain National Park starting tomorrow. The librarian only gave me so much time so I will try and put up pictures from there. Use your imaginations for this one.
Track and Field